How to Dress Well Total Loss

How to Dress WellTotal Loss
Right before the release of his debut album, 2010's Love Remains, Krell (who records as How To Dress Well) lost his best friend unexpectedly. Krell used his music to help cope with the tragedy, resulting in his second full-length album, Total Loss. With help from XL Recordings' in-house genius, Rodaidh McDonald, Krell has enriched the scratchy, lo-fi production and avoided the fragmentary structures that typified his earlier releases. Using artists such as The-Dream and Whitney Houston as building blocks, Total Loss strips away R&B's stereotypical excess and presents its take, rearranging the genre through sparse measures and an avant-garde slant. It's an album of mourning, but in all of the darkness Krell finds a light to help guide the songs to make them as celebratory as they are disparaging. There's no better dichotomy than between the tear-drenched strings and soaring falsetto on the hauntingly poignant "Talking to You" and the crisp, snapping pulses that move the sexed-up "& It Was U." Total Lossis a brave effort by an artist who's clearly not afraid to show vulnerability through risk-taking and soul baring. That these intimate torch songs are rife with hooks speaks volumes to his gift. (Acéphale)